Gongs for best drops

FOUR Great Southern vineyards picked up nine of 24 trophies at the prestigious Wine Show of Western Australia held in Mount Barker last week.

Denmark’s Rockcliffe, Castle Rock Estate in Porongurup, Ferngrove Frankland River Wines and Frankland River’s Alkoomi Wines won gold across the Riesling, Rosé and Pinot Noir categories and event coordinator Marie O’Dea said it was a great effort.

“We had more than 115 wineries competing,” she said.

“Our Singaporean judge, Lim Hwee Peng was quite impressed…it’s an indication of the strength of the Great Southern.”

Rockcliffe won best Rosé of show with its 2018 Third Reef Rosé and Rockcliffe owner Steve Hall said it was a “very special” wine.

“At last year’s show, I purposely went through the rosés with Antony [winemaker] and the winners were very dry and grey, and I thought that was a French style,” he said.

“I said to Antony, ‘I need this, it’s a fabulous wine’ and so a lot of hassle, debate and work went into it.

“I thought Antony should make it, and he did, because he is from Provence and we made it in true Provence style.”

Mr Hall said Rockcliffe also won the Neale Warneford Trophy for best red blend with the Ironcloud Wines 2017 Rock of Solitude Purple Patch GSM, as Rockcliffe also makes Ironcloud products.

“Winning a trophy is the pinnacle, really,” he said.

“We’ve effectively made the best Rosé in WA.

“It’s a massive accolade for us.”

Castle Rock Estate won the Winequip Trophy for most successful exhibitor processing under 250 tonnes, best Great Southern white and best Riesling with the 2018 Porongurup Riesling, and best Pinot Noir with the 2017 Porongurup Pinot Noir.

Winemaker and owner Rob Diletti said the vineyard had competed in the wine show since 1986 and winning kept the Castle Rock name fresh in people’s minds.

“We’ve done well in Perth and other capital city shows, so it’s a continual indication showing how our whites are going,” he said.

“For Riesling and Pinot Noir, Porongurup is up there creating the best in Australia.

“It’s amazing to get it [trophies].”

Mr Diletti said the location of the vineyard at the base of the Porongurup – which has a good balance between being not too rigorous and not too lean in its soil – the elevation of the land, and the easterly sea breeze from the Great Australian Bight all contributed to creating the ideal growing conditions for his grapes.

Ferngrove Frankland River Wines won the title of best Great Southern red and best red varietal for its 2017 Black Label Malbec and vineyard manager Chris Zur said it was earned by a big team effort.

“It’s always good news to be recognised for hard work,” he said.

“We’ve been a champion for Malbec in the region for a long time, and it’s because of a lot of work from the whole team.”

Mr Zur said despite Frankland River being “probably” the most isolated of the five sub-regions in the Great Southern, its low disease pressure, Mediterranean climate and the cooling influence of the Southern Ocean in the afternoon were desirable for making Malbec.

Alkoomi Wines won best aged Riesling for their 2010 Black Label Riesling.

Owner Sandy Hallett said the vineyard had supported the Wine Show for many years, with Ms Hallett’s father being one of the founding members of the prominent event.

“This [trophy] shows that Riesling from our region, whilst delicious young, also has tremendous ageing potential,” she said.

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Guiding light brings story home

THE LAUNCH of Albany’s Field of Light: Avenue of Honour artwork at the Mount Clarence war memorial last week sparked vivid memories of Afghanistan for State Veteran Issues Minister Peter Tinley, a onetime member of the crack SAS regiment.

“Those lights, when I stood back and got a good space-and-depth look at them, reminded me of flying in the Middle East and coming into towns in Afghanistan where there was a smattering of lights,” Mr Tinley reflected in an unguarded interview with The Weekender on Friday.

“And it brought back memories of … trepidation and fear of what we might find down there on the ground.”

In 1990, Mr Tinley graduated first in class and was Queens Medallist at the Royal Military College Duntroon.

For 17 of his 25 years in the Army he served with the Special Air Service regiment, which is based in Perth.

“It’s really good to be part of this continuous and unbroken story of Albany’s connection to the Anzacs,” he said.

“Actually, I thought the rain made last night’s opening even more poignant.

“It just added to that sense of place that was so important to the Anzac story and will continue to be important.”

Mr Tinley was the first member in the history of the SAS to advance from Trooper to Squadron Commander.

“One of the things that’s really good about Field of Light is the inclusion of the ‘A’ and the ‘NZ’, in the changing colour of the lights to the Kwhai, the national flower of New Zealand, and the wattle,” he said.

“As Veteran’s Minister I go around always and acknowledge there is an ‘NZ’ in ‘Anzac’, because in major missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and everywhere in between our Kiwi brothers and sisters have been there with us.

“They’re two siblings that don’t mind going each other, from Rugby to under-arm bowling, but the relationship is still very strong.”

During his final appointment as Chief Operations Officer from 2001 to 2004 Mr Tinley was principal planner for operations worldwide including East Timor, Christmas Island (Tampa), Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The challenge for us in Government is to make sure all of Australia knows what’s going on in Albany so people can have a fair opportunity to get here,” the Labor Member for Willagee said.

“And it’s on until April.

“My eight-year-old daughter has committed me to a road-trip to get to it again so she can see it.”

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Govt swamped on Carnegie payment

HEATED debate over the Albany wave power project dominated the reopening of Parliament on Tuesday, with Treasurer Ben Wyatt conceding the State may have cooked $2.6 million of taxpayer dough.

Asked by Member for Warren-Blackwood Terry Redman if Carnegie Energy cannot convince the Government it has the financial capacity to complete the project off Sandpatch, will $2.6 million already paid to the firm be lost, Mr Wyatt said: “I suspect so”.

“Because ultimately in nine weeks the State Government will have to assess whether Carnegie has the capacity to deliver the project in the new tax incentive environment,” he explained.

Earlier, Mr Wyatt, outwardly calm under intense Opposition fire, argued that recent changes to the Federal research and development tax incentive that now made the project less viable could not have been foreseen by the State.

Opposition Leader Mike Nahan demanded the Government table any advice it had been given on why Carnegie should have received the $2.6 million.

“We now know that Carnegie is really struggling with its technology and investment off Garden Island,” he said.

“The government did not do an assessment of whether the technology that Carnegie had that was designed to serve isolated naval bases around the world that pay top dollar for energy was competitive down in Albany; it was not.

“We now have Carnegie virtually collapsing as a firm; the man who put it together has left.”

Dr Nahan said Carnegie’s share price had “collapsed to one per cent”.

“It has flogged energy made clean at a 75 per cent loss and it is not capable of undertaking the project, yet it came and asked for its milestone payments,” he added.

“The Government initially baulked, but then gave Carnegie half.

“On what basis did the Government give it … the $2.6 million milestone payment given it has not met the milestones and cannot continue with the project?”

Dr Nahan said the Government did not do its due diligence, and had misled Albany.

“Clearly, the people of Albany wanted to go to 100 per cent renewable energy – fair enough – and the government wanted to titillate them with a renewable,” he said.

“It crab-walked away from it and said the project was not to deliver energy, it was a research project.”

He said Carnegie already had a viable research project in Fremantle that was servicing Garden Island.

“The government has actually undermined that project and probably seriously damaged the whole firm,” he said.

“The Government took this on to get a few votes down in Albany and ruined a good firm.

“Carnegie will not deliver the project and a hell of a lot of money has been wasted just to cater to a marginal seat.”

Premier Mark McGowan retorted, saying: “We proudly support the people of Albany”.

“Again, I do not understand why the Liberal and National Parties dislike the people of Albany so much that they do not want these innovative projects supporting their economic development,” he added.

A question of public interest raised by Mr Redman – that the house condemn the Government for its mishandling of the wave farm and call on Mr McGowan to remove regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan from project oversight – was defeated 34 votes to 19.

In the Legislative Council, Ms MacTiernan, responding to a question from Agricultural Region MLC Martin Aldridge, said: “Of course we looked at the capability of Carnegie and its financial capacity”.

“Carnegie is not in default of its agreement, but we have exercised the right we have under the terms of that agreement to ask it to outline, in this changed legal environment, how it is going to fund its contribution into the project before we make any further commitments,” she said.

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Balcony by degrees

ALBANY pub Six Degrees has landed a $100,000 State heritage grant to reinstate its majestic balcony, a corner post of which was obliterated by a tearaway circus elephant in 1929.

At the hotel on Friday, owner Anton Davey said he would rebuild the long-gone balcony similarly to how the nearby White Star Hotel had rebuilt its in recent years.

“It’s a project that’s going to cost $200,000, and once we do that, we want to re-licence that area, because we’ll have that great view of the harbour that is magnificent,” he said.

The venue, which still carries the ‘Royal George Hotel’ name it went by for decades, was turned down for funding in the past two years but now has scored the maximum amount available under the State’s Heritage Grants Program.

“There was a balcony here in 1929,” Mr Davey said.

“A post was taken out by Jumbo the elephant that escaped from the train down here, and it ran along Stirling Terrace and turned left into what is now our beer garden, into our laneway and actually took out the corner post.”

With editorial aplomb, on August 17, 1929 The Albany Advertiser reported Jumbo’s rampage through central Albany at the bottom of Page 2 under the headline: ‘Jumbo gets a move on’.

“Jumbo, one of the elephants attached to Wirth’s Circus … arrived by the early morning special train, and after breakfast was engaged in hauling lorry loads of gear to the Parade Street reserve, the site chosen for the huge tent,” the newspaper’s local and general roundsman wrote.

“A slight mishap to the lorry necessitated a detour to the Frederick Street works of Mr A.F. Cuddihy for repairs.”

Then things got interesting.

“Jumbo entered the Royal George lane with due decorum, but thereafter became restless and made off on ‘top gear’ with his lorry rattling behind,” the roundsman continued.

“He negotiated the narrow right-of-way without the slightest deviation but the turn to the west into Stirling Terrace proved his undoing.

“Contact with the corner post of the Royal George Hotel Terrace verandah proved disastrous for the post.

“The steel upright was snapped off like a carrot, and the top portion left swaying in the breeze.”

With The Advertiser’s current local and general roundsman not at Six Degrees on Friday for the funding announcement, The Weekender also learned exclusively that Mr Davey had abandoned his application for a 2am closing time (‘Second tilt at 2am closing time’, 24 May).

“I’ve put it on the table twice and I think because of the multi-use of the area with accommodation over the road it actually doesn’t matter [to State liquor officials] that this hotel has been here 150 years and that building down there [on Proudlove Parade] has only been here 15 years, for some reason that doesn’t seem to matter,” he lamented.

He said his current approval to trade to 1am, revealed here last year (‘Six degrees of excitation’, 7 December), was “going along just fine”.

“We won’t go back [to the State liquor licensing director] again for the 2am,” he said.

“We’ll rebuild the business around a 1am closing time.”

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Marina hotel ‘by 2020’

FORGET Middleton Beach; Albany’s best chance of landing a luxury hotel soon is at the harbour-front block beside Due South tavern where owner Paul Lionetti wants a hotel built in the next 18 months.

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington told The Weekender a development application for a hotel on Mr Lionetti’s block had been lodged and the local business identity wanted the likely six-floor structure built by Easter 2020.

“It’s a design and construct thing with Pindan Constructions,” Mr Wellington said.

“It has 108 rooms.

“It fits within the guidelines of the agreement under which that land was originally set up.”

Mr Wellington said he was not in a position to confirm the hotel’s likely star rating.

“I haven’t had it really confirmed about the operator but we understand it will be a major chain, which would be advantageous in terms of them going to their database around the world and advertising this new hotel in Albany,” he added.

“It’s certainly something that we do need and the sooner we get it the better.”

The plans are being considered by City staff ahead of referral for a decision by a State-convened assessment panel on which Mr Wellington and Councillor Bill Hollingworth are the only locally elected officials.

“I think it’s a terrific idea,” Mr Wellington said of the hotel.

“I think it’s something we desperately need into our tourism product that we have a top-class hotel down there.

“I think if it goes through it would be excellent.”

Last month, State Lands Minister Rita Saffioti confessed not one developer had expressed interest in building a hotel on a plot at Middleton Beach left vacant when the much-loved Esplanade Hotel was demolished in 2007.

Mr Wellington said a recent approach by Mr Lionetti to convert some of the project’s rooms into apartments was yet to be resolved and did not form part of the current application.

Mr Lionetti declined to comment.

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Casting the net

GREAT Southerners have the chance to be in Albany film H is for Happiness if they can make it to casting sessions tomorrow and Saturday.

H is for Happiness follows the story of 12-year-old Candice Phee, who is on a mission to find happiness for her family following a tragedy.

The family movie will be filmed in Albany during November and December this year.

Extras, stand-ins and doubles are being sought of all ages, shapes, sizes and cultural backgrounds and will be chosen from the people who attend the casting sessions at Albany Entertainment Centre tomorrow, October 12 from 1.30pm to 5pm and Saturday, October 13 from 9am to 3pm.

One role to be filled is for a 12 or 13-year-old female student with red hair, Caucasian skin with freckles and who is approximately 154cm tall.

Another is for a 32 to 42-year-old male with brown hair, Caucasian skin and who is approximately 188cm tall.

Other roles include an elderly ladies walking group, couples, paramedics, nurses, orderlies, bands, a six-month-old red-haired female, six to 13-year-old children, teenagers, dog owners and dogs, families and a six-year-old red-haired female.

To register your interest and have your photo taken, email Rachael Karotkin at happinessfilm.casting@ gmail.com.

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Rex defends delays

EXTENDED delays to Rex’s Albany flights have raised the ire of MLA Peter Watson, who says he will raise the matter with his State Labor colleague Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“I’m going to catch up with Rita to find out what the benchmarks are, because of the amount of complaints I’m getting,” Mr Watson said on Monday night after belatedly arriving in Perth.

That morning, his scheduled 6:30am flight did not depart Albany until 11.25am.

“It just happens all the time,” he told The Weekender.

“It’s a weekly occurrence.”

The parliamentarian said he took between 30 and 40 return flights to Perth a year, and Rex offered a wide range of reasons for delays.

“Sometimes, they say: ‘Oh, we can’t get the pilots’,” he lamented.

“They’re also putting people off planes because it’s too heavy.

“I was at Perth Airport a couple of weeks ago, and they said they needed two people to volunteer, otherwise they could not take off because it was bad weather in Albany.”

Mr Watson said he checked the weather on his phone and Albany seemed all clear, and when he finally touched down the weather was okay at Drome.

He said a fellow passenger, recently diagnosed with cancer, who missed a 9.45am specialist’s appointment in Perth thanks to Monday’s long delay, had emailed him.

“I didn’t receive a text message and did not find out about the cancelled flight until I arrived at the airport at 5.45[am],” the woman wrote.

“Had I received a message about the flight last night, I could have driven to Perth and made the appointment.

“I have to spend the night in Perth now, which I do not want to [as it] will incur extra charges.”

Mr Watson said that over the past 12 months, delays and cancellations had got “worse and worse”.

“Their name is ‘Regional Express’, but as someone said at the airport this morning, they may as well take the ‘express’ off because they’re never on time,” he said.

“They seem to think: ‘Oh, it’s a business, take what you get, we’ve got the [monopoly] rights [to run the service]’.

A Rex spokeswoman said Mr Watson’s flight was delayed due to “crew rest requirements as specified by Civil Aviation Orders”.

“The inbound flight from the previous night was delayed, resulting in an extended rest requirement for flight crew,” she said.

She said Rex’s on-time performance was “well above” the benchmark stipulated in the airline’s agreement with the State to operate the monopoly Albany service.

“In Financial Year 2018, Rex operated more than 2300 flights between Albany and Perth with 88 per cent operating on time and we expect a similar result in the full Financial Year 2019,” she said.

“There have been slightly more delays between Albany and Perth during the winter months of July and August.

“However, we are already seeing a significant improvement post winter.”

The Weekender asked questions of Ms Saffioti and received no reply.

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RAC aboard chopper bid

THE RAC has revealed it will again throw its hat in the ring to sponsor Western Australia’s two rescue helicopters, with a two-to-five year sponsorship deal for the choppers now up for grabs.

The Weekender recently learned the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, which operates the service, was set to advertise the sponsorship package (‘Sponsor up in the air’, 13 September).

That happened late last week, and RAC’s Executive General Manager Advocacy and Members Patrick Walker says he looks forward “to continuing our partnership with the State Government and the rescue helicopters”.

But continuation of the RAC deal is by no means guaranteed, with DFES calling for tenders from any organisation wishing to pay an annual fee, and chip in an additional $150,000 a year to fund a media campaign to promote the helicopters.

In New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, the Westpac bank sponsors those states’ helicopter rescue services.

DFES wants a sponsor to slap their livery on the fuselages of the ‘copters for two years from July 1 next year.

Thereafter, three one-year extensions will be available at DFES’ discretion.

RAC has sponsored the WA service since its inception in 2003, and was last selected as naming rights sponsor in mid-2014.

The choppers, based in Bunbury and Perth, serve more than 90 per cent of the state’s population.

Beneficiaries of the service include Hamish Bolto, then 10, who was rescued in 2015 after his trachea was severed in a motorbike accident on his family’s Katanning farm.

Applications for the sponsorship close on November 9.

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Wishes come true

FOR Make a Wish Albany president Ellie Gregory and vice president Sherri Willock, it’s all about seeing the smile light up on a sick child’s face that makes the long hours fundraising worthwhile.

From building cubby houses and buying state- of-the-art computers, to sending families on holidays and creating special baby hampers, the pair have seen and done it all in the name of giving sick children from the Great Southern a break from hospitals and needles.

Ms Gregory said Make a Wish Albany’s next fundraiser, to be held this Saturday, will take a different form from the usual quiz night and bake sale to create a more inclusive style of event.

“We felt like stuff was missing for young kids,” she said.

“So this is the first time we are doing a kid-focused fundraiser.

“We just want to do something to benefit the community.”

A range of kids’ activities will be held from 9am to noon on October 6 at the Albany Town Square and for $4 per child, kids can dance with Happy Feet Fitness, play games with Jamie the Clown, buy a treat from the bake sale and go in the running to win a raffle prize.

All money raised will go directly to Make a Wish to help grant wishes, of which the Albany branch has granted 15 in 10 years and one was completed as recently as May.

Albany’s own Taj Stubber, now 16, was one of the 15 children who had his wish granted in the past and said having a wish become reality helped alleviate the stress of his medical battle.

Taj was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia when he was four years old and living in Borden.

He spent three years receiving treatment in Perth and staying at Ronald McDonald House with his mum, and missed time at home with his dad and two older brothers.

It was when Taj was seven years old and back at home that some of his secret wishes came true.

“I got told I was doing a grocery run in town,” Taj recalled.

“When I got back, there was a West Coast Eagles-themed pool party and David Hall, my favourite sprint car driver, was there.

“Then I found out I was going to the Gold Coast for a week with Mum, Dad, Bodhi and Logan.”

Taj said he got to meet Nitro, one of the hosts from TV series The Shak and went to all the different theme park ‘worlds’.

The smile on his face when reflecting on the trip eight years on showed how much of a difference the holiday made for Taj and his family.

“It was a pretty tough time,” Taj said about the toll his cancer battle took on his loved ones.

“So it was good to get away and have time to hang out together.”

Ms Gregory revealed the Albany Make a Wish group is about to start working on a new wish for a child living in the Great Southern, and said she encouraged people to attend Saturday’s event to help raise money for the charity.

Young Taj said he still receives annual health check-ups and planned to have one this week in Perth, which he hopes will be the last one in Perth before receiving them annually in Albany.

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Albany has lowest sex ratio

HETEROSEXUAL men in Albany may have cause for celebration as the city has the lowest ratio of males to females in regional Western Australia.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Thursday show there are only 87.1 males per 100 females in the South Coast’s only city.

This is the lowest sex ratio of any statistical area in regional WA.

The Albany sex ratio is the second lowest in the State, behind only the leafy Perth enclave of Mosman Park/Peppermint Grove that had 85.6 males for every 100 females.

At the other end of the scale, the mining areas of East Pilbara (274.7) and Ashburton (245.9) had the State’s highest male to female sex ratios.

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